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Gig Line: Reaching for an outstretched hand

First things first: blood, the lifeline we hope would be available if needed can make a difference in survival or not for anyone critically ill or seriously injured. If you typically donate your precious blood at the American Red Cross blood drives, I commend you. If you haven’t, but you’ve considered it, please do so at the upcoming drive. Where? Holy Redeemer By the Sea Catholic Parish, 301 West Kitty Hawk Road, Kitty Hawk, NC 27949 (252) 261-4700; When? Tuesday, February 2 from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. and Wednesday, February 3 from 12 noon – 6 p.m.

Personally, I wish I could donate mine and some of you may also but are unable to due to medical history, current medications, recent travel, etc. If that be the case, please think about helping in another way. Encourage family, friends and co-workers to contact the American Red Cross at 800-733-2767 to help determine if they are eligible to donate or you might donate your time as a volunteer at this or future blood drives and then, of course you can always donate financially to help meet the needs of those who suffer catastrophic losses due to storms, fires and earthquakes, etc. Your participation at the blood drives helps everyone especially the actual recipients of your life saving blood. Just think about it. Your blood could save the life of someone you know and love or a little child. If you’re able, please help them, help others. Thank you!

Last week I felt blessed. Even with the heavy hearts of our nation, blessings encompass us. I received several emails/calls from veterans who took the time to read Gig Line, some for the first time, some who read it every Sunday and it touched my heart; not out of pride, rather out of a happiness I experienced back in 2012 when I wrote the first story about my sweet Billy coming home from Vietnam because it meant so much to him. It wasn’t that he and his buddies wanted sympathy – no, no, no, not at all; they wanted and deserved respect. And every year since then, God has used me to write Gig Line which promotes awareness of our veterans and encourages them (you) to seek health care you have earned for issues potentially service related and to hopefully feel better after feeling so bad for so long for doing the job you were asked or required to do: protecting fellow soldiers and the oppressed.

There was a lot of hurt down deep inside my handsome, big burley husband and best, best friend yet over the 48 years following our marriage when I was 17; we had limited conversation between us about Vietnam and what he went through. I wanted to know, I wanted to share his heartache, I wanted to do whatever I could to lift him up and show him how proud I was of him and his service, no matter what he had to do to carry out his orders and come back home.

And what little I learned over all those years wasn’t because of what he said as much as what he didn’t say. I’m thankful that God brought Billy and I together. I loved and still love his so much every single day. I’m honored that my husband was a Christian man; that he was a veteran who loved this country, “her” Old Glory stars and stripes, her patriotic songs that has led parades, her outstanding service men and women. The pedestal on which he stood was almost in the clouds in my eyes. He was a husband who knew how to love and treat a woman, show enviable strength inside and out yet at the same time, he had a sweet tenderness and love for his children and grandchildren and a gentle embrace for those less fortunate, physically or mentally challenged, downtrodden or mistreated. What a man. Dear sweet Lord, I miss him so.

I told my daughter this morning that each time I hear from one of you who read Gig Line, it reminds me of the cherished Christmas movie “It’s a Wonderful Life,” when Jimmy Stewart held his little girl “Zuzu” in his arms on the stairs and the little bell hanging on the tree rang and she said, “Look, Daddy, teacher says every time a bell rings an angel gets his wings.” When you all write to me or call, I can picture Billy smiling. In fact, yesterday out of the blue when I sat down on our bed, I must have bumped my cell phone screensaver or something because all of a sudden, the saved YouTube of the fundraiser held in his honor at our church started to play. I watched it again as I have many times before and I cried . . . again. It’s sad but a beautiful memory of a day when our veteran community, church family and friends all over Dare County came to see him and let him know they loved him and were praying for him. If you’d like to see it, you’re welcome to view it at https://youtu.be/puszqdUFldE.

He showed me within weeks of our 1968 wedding (just having gone through Tet in Vietnam) how those of us who only heard about Vietnam on the news were naïve or just oblivious to the real deal. His patriotism birthed in me a desire to honor his brothers/sisters everywhere through Gig Line. And I don’t know what our loved ones see from Heaven, maybe nothing at all or maybe whatever the good Lord allows or shares with His angels, but I know my Billy would be happy you write to me, too. He made his mark in this world, just like all of you veterans have, no matter what war or conflict you served in or where or if you were here protecting us stateside – veterans have made an indelible mark on all our lives, our memories, our spirit and we love you all.

If you have a question, want to talk or would like to get your free Dare County Veteran Discount Card for business discounts at eateries, retail goods and professional services across Dare County, contact me. My cell number is 252-202-2058 and my email is giglineheroes@aol.com and goodness gracious, please if you’re a Vietnam veteran, don’t shrug off that your medical issues couldn’t possibly be a result of exposure to Agent Orange. Over the past seven years, I’ve seen some surprising blessings in our veterans’ lives because they took the time finally to investigate what they might be eligible for. How? Call our Dare County Veteran Service Officer, Patty O’Sullivan at 252-475-5604 or write to her at www.dcvac@darenc.com. She’s wonderful and will go out of her way to help you to the best of her ability.

Your fellow soldier wanted you to at least check it out – for your own good and it’s not like you must do anything you don’t want to – but to know if your medical problems could result in an earned and well-deserved disability compensation. What could it hurt? It could make life a little easier, help cover medical expenses and ease some burden off you and your spouse. That single phone call to Patty could make your life a little or a lot easier and if anyone deserves that, it’s you!

Until next time, be happy, be safe, and be proud and just know how special you are to our nation and nations beyond that you have helped to recover and heal. Know too that veteran’s family members who have dealt with weeks, months and years of separation here while you were somewhere else serving our country is also greatly appreciated and acknowledged. God bless the men, women, children, parents and siblings of those deployed to foreign lands. Thank you for all your sacrifices as well.

Please consider the blood drive next Tuesday and Wednesday; love each other like you never have before; forgive those who have hurt you; help those who need help if you can and be thankful for God’s blessings – they are many. I love you all, I truly do. Please wear your mask and you know the drill . . . stay tuned.

FOR MORE COLUMNS AND LETTERS TO THE EDITOR, CHECK OUT OUR OPINION SECTION HERE.

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